Virtual Fido

Imagine a picture of the Eiffel Tower on a clear day, jutting up against a blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds. In the foreground of the photo, looking right into the camera's lens, a cream colored Siamese and her white-with-dark-spots companion. Next shot: the same two kitties sipping hot chocolate at a cafe on the Seine. Then the two of them sitting in front of the Notre Dame in Chartres, now posing by the Louvre, at the Palais Royal, at the Rodin Museum. What kind of nut takes his cats to Paris with him? When David Scarbrough went to Paris for 10 days, he packed a life-sized photo cutout of his two cats, Dalli and Sammy, which he put in every snapshot he took. Now, Scarbrough's web page, "Cats in Paris," takes you on a tour of the great city from the perspective of his cultured cats.Dalli, the white cat, narrates the tour. Outside the Rodin museum, the sophisticated feline remarks, "The thing behind us is Napoleon's crypt. He's some old dead guy, I think." Scarbrough says he posted the photos on the web one day when he was sick, home from work and bored. "The response has been amazing." I guess I spent too much time admiring the cats in Paris from my own computer, because Mystery, my sleek, possessive, black cat, decided not to take such slights lying down. He jumped onto my lap and demanded a turn web surfing. The cat drooled on my hands and pawed at the keyboard, sending my screen careening from hyperlink to hyperlink. Pet pages flew by like some kind of carnival on wheels, and when the dust finally settled, we were looking at the on-screen profile of a kitty, body hunched over with stoic concentration. Where were we, anyway?I should have known -- in the bathroom! Mystery has an obsession with my bathroom, and his fetish has reached the point where he feels obliged to accompany me every single time I go in there, even in the middle of the night. So there we were, in the midst of a detailed explanation on "How to Toilet Train Your Cat," complete with pictures of Misha the cat in full squat, demonstrating both correct and incorrect kitty toilet posture. Poor Misha, having to be photographed in such undignified poses, for all the world to see! And he didn't even get to wear a disguise. Something in the blur of Mystery's earlier web surfing blitz had caught my attention. Backing up patiently through the web pages, I found this little gem of an epitaph, one of hundreds residing in the world's one and only "Virtual Pet Cemetery":Here lies Blackie,Chased a car,Caught in the muffler,Dragged through the tar,Around the corner,Across the track,He might not be dead,But he never came back.When you think about it, it's not really surprising that we have brought our pets with us onto the 'net. People are natural explorers, and animals have accompanied us even into outer space, so why not into Cyberia?I do wonder, though-as we continue to put more reality into our "virtual reality" -- what's to stop all these critters from running wild or getting lost when we aren't looking? Imagine packs of cyberstrays prowling virtual alleyways, knocking over virtual trashcans, peeing on virtual fire hydrants. Has anyone witnessed a virtual cat fight yet? Gotten their monitor sprayed by a virtual tom? Accidentally stepped in virtual dog poop?Because if our pets can roam, live and die on the 'net, then certainly they can breed there. And what then? Anyone care to adopt a cyberstray? Perhaps we should consider setting up a Virtual Humane Society. A virtual spay/neuter clinic? Virtual rabies shots for newbies? How far does this thing go? Oh well, one thing is certain. Whatever else is happening in real life, in Cyberia it has become a dog-email-dog world. Interesting Pet Sites on the World Wide WebJuanune's Virtual Pet Rock Pagehttp://weber.u.washington.edu/~juanune/pet.htmlThe Uselessness of Petshttp://www.primus.com/staff/paulp/useless/pets.htmlThe Amazing Fish Camhttp://home.netscape.com/fishcam/fishcam.htmlHow to Toilet Train your Cat http://www.greyware.com/authors/karawynn/toiletcat.htpTalk to My Cathttp://queer.slip.cs.cmu.edu/cgi-bin/talktocatMy Cat Gets More E-Mail than Mehttp://www.tcp.ca//Feb95/MyCat.htmlInternet for Catshttp://www.execpc.com/~judyheim/internet4cats.htmlThe Pet Pageshttp://www.dynamo.net/dynamo/pets/pets.htmlPetvillehttp://www.canadamalls.com/petville/The Virtual Pet Cemeteryhttp://www.lavamind.com/pet.html

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